John Young, ODI
A one day workshop to publicise the GDN Bridging research and policy project among researchers associated with the GDN East Asia Network. It was held alongside a regional workshop for researchers involved in research projects on Political Transition and Development, and Labour Migration in the Asia Pacific Region.
Pak Hadi Soesastro welcomed the workshop participants and facilitators and opened the workshop. In the first presentation John Young introduced the GDN Bridging Research and Policy Project and the ODI RAPID programme, both of which have been undertaking research on the interface between research and policy over the last few years. There is a growing literature from many disciplines which suggests that policy-making is a complex process involving many actors who are influenced by multiple factors. ODI and the GDN have developed an analytical framework to guide further research which clusters factors into four groups: external factors (donor policies, trade etc); political factors (politics, policy processes and prevalent narratives etc); the evidence (credibility, practical usefulness and communication etc); and links (networks, intermediaries and the media etc).
Participants explored these ideas in greater detail during discussions and group work. They found that the key factors influencing research policy links in the region included the existence of well-established networks of like-minded researchers (eg EADN) which were themselves closely linked to intergovernmental networks (eg ASEAN). Good IT facilities, common regional issues, strong political leadership, regional competition and regional crises (SARS and the Economic Crisis) are also important.
After lunch, John Young explained how the theoretical framework can also be used as a practical tool to understand the context within which researchers are operating and help them to develop strategies to maximise the policy impact of the work. He illustrated this with stories from Kenya (why animal health care policy hasn't changed despite good evidence of the value of new approaches) and India (how a research project working on ground water availability has developed a new strategy for the final phase of the project). He illustrated how policy entrepreneurs use a wide range of different skills to achieve impact.
During discussions and group work, participants shared experiences about the approaches they have used to improve the policy impact of their own work, and what other options they might try. These included reviewing the range of skills within their institutes, better packaging of research results including producing short precise messages for the media and more multidisciplinary and collaborative research.
In the final presentation Cokro Leksmono presented some of the tools and approaches that are being developed at GDN and ODI to help researchers achieve greater impact with their work. These are still being assembled on the GDN and ODI web sites.
Pak Hadi Soesastro and Dr Chia Siow Yue closed the workshop on behalf of the Centre for International and Strategic Studies and the East Asia Development Network and thanked the facilitators and participants for their hard work.